Wolves v Arsenal: Match in pictures
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta’s two big transfer demands in recent windows were laid bare in the Gunners’ 2-1 defeat to Wolves on Tuesday night. Arsenal were strong in the first-half against Wolves, but were made to pay for two lapses in judgement.
Arteta has issued two key transfer demands to the Gunners’ board in the past two windows.
Last summer, he wanted a new central midfielder to build his team around.
With Houssem Aoaur out of their price range, they ended up signing Thomas Partey, a man described after his first few games as being the second coming of Patrick Vieira.
Injury derailed his solid start to life in north London, but he seems to be in full flow now, and showed his class against Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
With Pepe, Hector Bellerin and Bukayo Saka in front of him, the Ghanaian was able to sit in the pocket in front of the Wolves defence and slip balls in behind for them to run onto.
He signalled his intent to cause problems for Wolves in just the first minute, as he lobbed a ball over the top for Saka to chase, and the youngster was unlucky to be denied by the post.
That was the story of Partey’s midfield, prompting Martin Keown to say: “He’s looking like a Rolls Royce, isn’t he? The way he’s just ghosting through that midfield.”
He looks irreplaceable in the Arsenal team at the moment, as was evidenced when he was taken off for Runar Alex Runarsson following Bernd Leno’s red card, and has completely justified Aretata’s demand to Stan Kroenke to fork out the £54million to sign him.
Arsenal’s performance also vindicated Arteta’s second demand to the board – to sign a new left wing-back.
Kieran Tierney has remained a key figure of the Arsenal side whenever he is available, but recent injury has left Arsenal short.
In his absence on Tuesday, Arteta named a makeshift defence with Cedric Soares playing in the left wing-back role.
He was clearly out of his depth in that position, and struggled on both ends of the pitch.
Pepe looked solid in his hour of game time, and looked as good as he has done since joining Arsenal.
But behind him, he didn’t have the same level of support as he does when Tierney plays, and it’s obvious he struggled slightly as a result.
A lot of Arsenal’s play went down the right flank due to Hector Bellerin’s strong performance, which worked well but left them looking slightly predictable.
Arsenal were interested in signing Crystal Palace’s Patrick Van Aanholt, reports suggest, and it’s obvious he would have done well on Tuesday and would have been the prime candidate to fill in for Tierney.
On occasion, Partey or Granit Xhaka would look to the left for Cedric to overlap, but he simply wasn’t there or didn’t make the right runs behind to allow Pepe to drift inside.
Arsenal now have a long wait until the summer transfer window, when they will likely move for a new left-back, and it’s clear for all to see that they need one.
If you were judging Arteta’s transfer decision-making, you’d have to say his determination to sign Partey suggests he should be listened to by the Arsenal hierarchy.
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